1. M. L. Brocke

    M. L. Brocke New Member

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    "Said" Before Or After The Name In Fantasy?

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by M. L. Brocke, Feb 2, 2017.

    Hi all,

    I'm currently on the revising stage of my fantasy novel. From what I've been able to glean from Google searches, "John said" and "said John" are both grammatically correct, though the latter is usually considered more old fashioned. The Inheritance Cycle uses [name] said, but The Wheel Of Time saga used the reverse--Is one considered more proper than the other in fantasy genres? Or is it acceptable to switch back and forth depending on which sounds better in context?
     
  2. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

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    Acceptable to switch back and forth.
     
  3. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    I like [name] said, but it doesn't really make any difference, fantasy or otherwise.
     
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  4. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    I'd say it's not only acceptable to switch back and forth, it's probably a good idea. You want variety, but you also want the 'saids' not to be noticed on a conscious level. Repetition can call attention to itself.

    The 'said John' option doesn't sound archaic anyway, if it's followed by some action beat to sharpen the scene. "Just leave me alone," said John, yanking the door open and pointing out into the bustling corridor. "Get out. You've wasted enough of my time today."

    Mind you, in that instance I probably wouldn't bother with 'said' at all.

    "Just leave me alone." John yanked the door open and pointed out into the bustling corridor. "Get out. You've wasted enough of my time today."

    I do love action beats as dialogue attribution. You get more bang for your buck.
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2017
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  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

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    "Said John" certainly has a fairy tale, singsong quality to it. It is more old-fashioned, but I think fantasy has done a good job maintaining that turn of the century vibe. "John said" is the loose standard now, but I don't think there's anything inherently prohibitive in flipping it around. Speaking as a reader, I would definitely notice if you used both "John said" and "said John", and I would probably look up and wonder why you were making me notice your speaker attributes, but I wouldn't necessarily put the book down. That's just a quirk with me because I've tinkered with the flip-flop before settling on "John said." Most readers probably won't care though.
     
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  6. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    I probably wouldn't notice it either way, and even if I did notice, it'd one of those things that might seem a bit strange at first, but I'd get used to it and perhaps even like it as part of the book's charm. Now if you wrote "quoth John," I'd take notice. :bigwink:

    I notice a lot of stuff because it's what I've struggled with in my own writing. Really, it's amazing how learning to write calls attention to things we might never have considered before.
     
  7. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    quoth John
    expostulated John
    temporized John
    ejaculated John
    intonated John
    phonated John

    All would get my attention. The placement of the said doesn't bother, though I personally put it after the name.
     
  8. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I was going through my own WIP and noticed that I use both, but always with the name to the outside:

    Tevin said, "We need to speak with your uncle before the ship leaves port."

    "I know," said Brenn.
     
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  9. Mumble Bee

    Mumble Bee Keep writing. Contributor

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    "I go both ways," said Jeff. He leaned in close, awkwardly close, and added, "If ya know what I mean."
     
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  10. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    Both are acceptable, though [character] said is definitely most popular. Interestingly I've noticed in my own writing that I universally use [Character] said, but with variations on the word 'said', I am not so rigid. I've written: Snapped [character], spat [character], chipped in [character] but I never write said [character].
     
  11. Freddy van Zandt

    Freddy van Zandt New Member

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    That's an interesting observation... it's a part of your style! Personally, I usually used the 'said John' form if I'm going to then continue on to a description of action, as in "I'm hungry," said John, rubbing at his grumbly tumbly, "where's breakfast, Pooh?"
     
  12. Elven Candy

    Elven Candy Pay no attention to the foot in my mouth Contributor

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    That's funny, I do the reverse!
    "I'm hungry," John said, rubbing his grumbly tumbly. "Where's breakfast?"
    Your way wouldn't bother me in a book, though.
     
  13. A.V.K.

    A.V.K. Member

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    It's okay to switch back and fourth depending on the desired effect.
     
  14. G.A. Kainne

    G.A. Kainne Member

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    I use said (insert name here) in my story so far but I do my best not to over use it lol...
     
  15. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Said (Or yelled, or screamed, or whispered) is a tag line and I generally mix up the order to avoid repetition. It really depends on the rhythm of the sentence. Read it aloud and see which sounds best for that particular sentence. Normally the emphasis will fail on the name, so "John said" is DUM duh, while 'said John" is duh DUM. One or the other will best match the mating sentence's rhythm.
     
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  16. Pinkymcfiddle

    Pinkymcfiddle Banned

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    I use both, but I don't think you consciously read "said" tags; your brain just makes a subconscious note of who was speaking. The less conspicuous the better, which is why "vocalised Dave" and "Mary orated" is probably a bad idea.
     
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  17. Lew

    Lew Contributor Contributor

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    Concur.
     
  18. Sonia's pen

    Sonia's pen New Member

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    Although I'm rather late on this open discussion. I'd say that the two work fine. However, I tend to use 'said name', but then I had a thought that when I substitute the name with a personal pronoun, I write 'he/she said, so this is where I get the mix! It would sound funny to write: 'said she/he'!
     
  19. GuytFromWayBack

    GuytFromWayBack New Member

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    (Name) said is the more modern style to use. It matches with the modern usage of pronouns ('He said' rather than the more classic 'said he'). If you want your story to have a more classical style, then use 'said (Name)' but if that's not your intention and the rest of your story is written in a more modern style, use (Name) said. I wouldn't recommend switching between them. 'Said' is meant to go unnoticed, and switching between them will only draw attention.
     
  20. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    So glad I found this tread! I've been toiling over this for days, and was about to ask the same question. I use both:

    'Hello,' said John.
    'Hi,' Joe replied.

    I think it gives variety, rather than being overly repetitive?
     
  21. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    ^ This! Great advice as always Jan!
     
  22. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    Also, I think using said before a name sounds better in certain circumstances, especially when introducing a character... e.g:

    'Good morning!' said Tommy, her ten-year-old son.
    Rather than:
    'Good morning!' Tommy said, her ten-year-old son.
     
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  23. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    Just did some research (looked into 3 major/big authors and their books) and found that:

    Stephen King uses: <name> said
    Neil Gaiman uses: said <name>
    JK Rowling uses: a mixture of both - in both HP and her adult novels.
     
  24. OurJud

    OurJud Contributor Contributor

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    For what it's worth I never use 'Said [name]'. It makes it sound too much like a children's story.
     
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  25. r.ross

    r.ross Member

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    Do you think it... how can I put it... simplifies the writing?
     

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